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BSF Bats Down Antitrust Claims Against Fresh Del Monte

Winter 2010

Carlos Sires

For the last decade, BSF has been defending Del Monte in multiple lawsuits over what is arguably the most valuable new fruit product in the world, an extra sweet hybrid pineapple that Del Monte brought to market.


In 2000, BSF lawyers brought suit on behalf of Fresh Del Monte companies against competitor Dole, alleging that Dole wrongly propagated the progeny of plant material misappropriated from Del Monte's Costa Rica plantation in order to develop its own stock of the famous MD-2 pineapple -- a hybrid that Del Monte launched commercially in 1996. The case was resolved by settlement.


Three years later, in 2003, on the heels of a page-one story in The Wall Street Journal on the history of the MD-2 pineapple (including the above case and settlement), Del Monte was named in over ten federal and state lawsuits brought by direct and indirect purchasers asserting antitrust violations and fraud on the trademark office in connection with the MD-2. In the federal cases, the plaintiffs claimed damages that, after trebling, exceeded $1 billion.  BSF handled the case during nearly six years of vigorous litigation, which ranged from Costa Rica to Hawaii.


In September 2009, Del Monte won a summary judgment motion in the federal cases on the grounds that the defendants had failed to define a proper product market and had failed to show that Del Monte had behaved in an anti-competitive fashion or that its conduct had any anti-competitive effect. BSF partners Carlos Sires and David Barrett argued the motions. BSF, representing Del Monte in all the federal and states cases, scored another win for Del Monte in a related state court case last August when a California judge denied certification of a statewide class in a complaint mimicking the allegations in the federal case.

Del Monte's representation was handled by, in addition to Sires and Barrett, BSF partners Stuart Singer, Carl Goldfarb, John Cove, and Kieran Ringgenberg, and counsel James Grippando, Kelly Yuan, and Gera Peoples.

Related Lawyers: Stuart H. Singer, Carl E. Goldfarb, , , James Grippando, Kelly Yuan

Related Practice: Antitrust